Sit-ups and running may do more than keep teen girls trim and in shape, a new study suggests.
Adolescent girls who exercise regularly are also less likely to be violent, according to researchers at Columbia University.
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The study looked at results of a 2008 survey completed by 1,312 students at four inner-city high schools in New York to determine if there was an association between regular exercise and physical violence.
Girls who had worked out at least 10 days in the past month were less likely to be in gangs.
Those who did more than 20 sit-ups in the past four weeks had decreased odds of carrying a weapon or being in a gang, while teen girls participated in team sports were less likely to carry a weapon, be involved in gangs or be in a fight.
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"This study is only a start," lead author Noe D. Romo said in a news release. "It suggests a potential relationship between regular exercise and decreased involvement in violent behavior.
"Further studies are needed to confirm this association and to evaluate whether exercise interventions in inner-city neighborhoods can decrease youths' involvement in violence-related behavior."
Romo and fellow researchers presented their findings Monday at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Washington, DC.